Friday, November 28, 2008

Skill and Beauty Shine at FIFA U20 World Cup

USA, North Korea, Japan and Nigeria favorites to win in Chile

The first round of the U20 Football World Cup has ended and eight teams have qualified to the next phase. The first nations in the points table were Nigeria in Group A, USA in Group B, Japan in Group C and Brazil in Group D. Until now one of the most exciting matches of the event was played on Nov. 23 at the La Florida stadium in Santiago. Germany faced Japan and most experts favored the European team to get the three points. But Japan gave a big surprise as it ended up winning by 2-1. The match was very balanced with continuous chances at both goals. Japan scored the winning goal with only ten minutes remaining and the Asian players celebrated for quite a while on the pitch after the final whistle.

On November 26 at the same stadium, Argentina was knocked out of the event after losing by 3-1 to France. In the second match New Zealand faced England and a victory would send the Oceania team to the next round. New Zealand started off very well since Sarah Maclaughlin scored after 27 minutes.

In the second half England took control of the action and even more so after Hoyle of N. Zealand was sent off in the 75th minute. It seemed that N.Z would get away with the three points but Toni Duggan saved England by scoring in the final minute of injury time. Duggan and her teammate Jennifer Clarke have become crowd favorites due to their skill and graceful figure. The event has many more attractive players such as Alex Morgan of the United States, that is also one of the top scorers with 3 goals. Erika, the Brazilian captain, is also a striker and contributed with one goal to her team’s 3-0 victory over Norway on Nov 27 in Coquimbo. Le Sommer and Marie Laure Delie of France have also caught the attention of the photographers at the matches. But the player that has become the most popular has been Leah of Brazil. Leah has lived most of her life in the U.S and needs an interpreter during training sessions since she cannot speak Portuguese. She plays on the left wing and has a spectacular method of taking the throwins from the sidelines.

Next matches:
Japan versus North Korea (December 1)
Brazil versus Germany

Nigeria versus France (November 30)
USA versus England

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